Month in Review: January 2020

As I was reviewing and updating my reading goals, I decided that a major goal for me this year is to read more books from or strongly representing different countries around the world. I got a good start this month!

I read Pachinko, a multi-generational saga about Koreans in Japan; The House of the Spirits and My Invented Country, Chilean author Isabel Allende’s fictional and non-fictional takes on her land and its tumultuous history; and All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes, the segment of Maya Angelou’s memoirs that deals with her time living in Ghana. All were marvelous and have me motivated to keep going with this project.

How has your reading year been going so far?



  • I reviewed a new Folio Society edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, published in honor of Anne Bronte’s 200th birthday.
  • A trio of books from D.E. Stevenson provided some welcome winter comfort reading.

Other Books Read

  • Fresh from the Country by Miss Read
  • Les deux vies de Badouin by Fabien Toulmé
  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
  • Village School by Miss Read – Reread
  • The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
  • All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes by Maya Angelou
  • A Song Flung Up to Heaven by Maya Angelou
  • My Invented Country by Isabel Allende
  • Mom and Me and Mom by Maya Angelou
  • Big Sky by Kate Atkinson –Book club
  • Lud in the Mist by Hope Mirlees – Reread


Other Features and Events


Shared in the Sunday Post hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer, the Month in Review linkup at The Book Date, and the Monthly Wrap-up Round-up hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction

31 thoughts on “Month in Review: January 2020

    1. I liked House of the Spirits but I found it even more interesting to then read her memoir My Invented Country, which explains some of the circumstances that led up to her writing that first novel. She says if she had not been an exile, she would never have become a writer – which is quite something. I would like to read Eva Luna but my library doesn’t seem to have that one. 😦


  1. Lory, looks like you have done some lovely reading (I love Miss Read’s Village School) and well done on making a good start on your goal to read more books representing different countries around the world. 😊

    While my reading has made a mediocre start, with just three books read in January. My pick of the month was my new cookbook Quick Cooking by Mary Berry, which is full of recipes I am looking forward to trying. 😋


  2. Reading more books from nations other then the United States is a good thing to do. I need to read more such books myself.

    You read a very interesting bunch of books here.

    I also do not read enough current books.


    1. It’s hard to find the balance, with all the excellent books from the past and present, from near an far. I’m happy when I have a month such as this one with a fine assortment of books.


  3. I aim for a mix of fiction and non-fiction in my reading. I do read quick a lot of new releases (and need to revisit some classics). A lot of my reading is of Australian authors, my biggest challenge is that because I only read in English, I often have to wait for translations of some Asian, European and South American books.
    All reading is good! 🙂


      1. Hi Lory, what kind of books do you like to read? Some of my favourites are Patrick White, Tim Winton, Carmel Bird and (some) Peter Carey (literary fiction), Robert Drewe, Eleanor Dark, Colleen McCullough (the Men of Rome series), Melissa Ashley (historical fiction). If you like crime fiction, I can suggest Dervla McTiernan, Chris Hammer (and others) if you like dystopian fiction: Melissa Ferguson, Jane Abbott and Meg Mundell. Indigenous writers include Tara June Winch, Anita Heiss, Alexis Wright and Bruce Pascoe. That might do for a start, but if there’s a specific genre you’d like to explore, let me know and I’ll see who else to add to the list. 🙂


        1. For “Around the World” I would like to read books that give a real flavor of the country, not that are just incidentally set there. Crime and dystopian are not my favorite genres, but I’ll read pretty much anything else. I would love to read some indigenous authors. Patrick White and Tim Winton ring a bell, I’ve heard of them but not read anything. This is a great starting point, thanks!


  4. Hooray for Miss Read! One of my mother’s favorite authors, her collection has now moved on to my sister, and I’ve read nearly all the books — perfect for rainy afternoons.


    1. It’s worth reading though it’s one of those where the focus gets diffused through a large cast of characters. The Pachinko metaphor was not inappropriate there — lots of balls bouncing around.


    1. Helen doesn’t take the abuse so passively as some other Bronte heroines, which is a relief. But then she does have to go and be all saintly and forgiving in the end, so I don’t know about badass. You should definitely read it, anyway.


  5. I really love your reading goal, and it sounds like you’re off to a cracking start!! I nearly bought a copy of The House Of The Spirits the other day, but I decided by gut feel to hold off until I find a copy of Paula (Allende’s memoir about losing her daughter – for some reason, I feel really drawn to read that one first).


    1. Reading the novel really made me curious about Allende’s real life story. I immediately read one of her other memoirs and found it wonderful. I would like to read Paula as well at some point. If you’re drawn to it, go ahead!


  6. I really enjoyed Pachinko. I know some readers were disappointing by the straightforward prose, but I usually really like that kind of writing.

    I read a lot of Allende twenty plus years ago because it was what my friends were reading but I don’t think I like her style much. I didn’t know what magic realism was back then, but I know now that books with that fantastical element are hit and miss with me. Her memoir might be more interesting to me.

    How was Big Sky? I am re-reading the Jackson Brodie series because it has been so many years…to work up to the new book. So far, however, I only have Case Histories under my belt but it did remind me of how I love Atkinson.


    1. I used to really like Kate Atkinson and I’ve read most of her books but I enjoy them less and less. With Big Sky, though it was a page turner and I could appreciate the way she constructed it, I do not agree with her moral view of the universe. It would be a longer discussion to explain why, and I don’t want to criticize her books on those grounds because she has a right to her own opinions, of course. It just means I don’t personally want to read them any more.

      The fantastical element was my least favorite part of The House of the Spirits. It seemed a little awkward and tacked on (even though in her memoir she insisted it was taken from real life!)


  7. Excellent reading month for you. I haven’t read a book by Maya Angelou before and maybe I should check out her work since she is one of your favorites.


    1. I recommend at least trying I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It is a classic and groundbreaking memoir and an important testament to the African American experience. If you like her writing you’ll want to read more.


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